Archive for July 2011
This video shows a live experiment carried out at the University of Southampton demonstrating that copper very effectively kills MRSA. This raises the possiblity that copper surfaces could be introduced into hospitals and used to cover areas that are frequently touched by patients, visitors and healthcare professionals. We think this is pretty cool!
The video was originally posted here: http://www.southampton.ac.uk/promotion/copper_02.shtml
How do we judge whether a research paper is any good? One straightforward way is to measure how often the article is downloaded online – but that doesn’t tell us if the readers actually thought the article was significant once they’d read it. Instead we can monitor how often an article is cited in the writings of other scientists. We can even do this for all the articles published by a particular journal (for example, in the last two or five years) and divide the total cites by the number of articles published to get an impact factor: Bingo, journal impact instantly measured!
Impact factors are a flawed and derided metric but – whisper it – by and large they also reflect many microbiologists’ perceptions and prejudices about the status of the journals in which we publish. When drafting a manuscript, it’s likely that each of us approaches choosing which journal we want to submit our work to in much the same way: we assess the scope and significance of the piece of work to be written up and then have a gut instinct as to which journal will accept it.
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Eusocial insects are remarkable creatures, they divide their labour, care for their young and some of these insects developed agriculture long before modern humans evolved. Now it seems they could offer us a way out of the current energy crisis and our crippling reliance on fossil fuels.
Releasing the sugars trapped in lignocellulose is the rate limiting step in bioethanol production and currently relies on chemical and mechanical treatment. Termites feed on plant detritus and their guts can efficiently convert lignocellulose (also known as wood) into sugars. So how do they do it?